How do Christians relate to – the sick, the poor, Jews, animals, the Bible, cults, and Satan?
B141 - Do not blame sickness on person or their parents (relationship with the sick)
Jesus said in John 9:3,
‘It was not that this man sinned or his parents.’
It is unwise to blame a sickness on the sick person or his/ her parents.
We do not know the beginning from the end. The story for that person has not been completed. And there could always be beauty out of a bad situation.
The Book of Job shares about just one man, Job, who lost so much – his wealth, his home, and then his entire family. Yet, the Lord made him good later in his life. But while Job was going through those suffering, would it not look like there was no light at the end of the tunnel?
What did Samson see when he was returning home from Timnah? A swarm of bees nesting in the carcass of a lion.
‘So he scraped it (honey) out into his hands and went on, eating as he went’ (Judges 14:9).
Who would have thought that there was fresh honey in the carcass of a lion?
Joni Eareckson Tada was one such story, honey in the carcass of a lion. When a diving accident left her a quadriplegic in a wheelchair in 1967, instead of moaning and groaning, today she stands out as an internationally known mouth artist, a talented vocalist, a radio host, an author of seventeen books and an advocate for disabled persons worldwide.
Then, there is Nick Vijicic, a man born without limbs, who inspires millions through his ministry entitled appropriately, Life Without Limbs. Incidentally, both Joni and Nick are believers.
We might even know someone who has been sick and instead of them being a burden, their attitude has turned around to be an inspiration to us.
When it comes to sickness, always show compassion before judgment. Jesus healed out of compassion and not so much as to prove who he was. See also B216, Be driven by compassion for souls.
Hence, do not blame a sickness on the sick person or his/ her parents. We do not know the end from the beginning and we do not know enough.
B142 - Do not despise (relationship with the sick)
In 2 Cor 12:7-10 and Gal 4:12-14, Paul explained that he had a sickness. He simply called it a thorn in the flesh. When he wrote a letter to the Galatians, he indicated his ‘bodily ailment’. Yet, Paul was thankful that the Galatians did not ‘scorn or despise’ him but instead received him as ‘an angel of God’.
In 1 Tim 5:23, Paul wrote to Timothy to take a little wine for the sake of his stomach and frequent ailments. So was Trophimus whom Paul left in Miletus because he was unwell (2 Tim 4:20) and Epaphroditus who almost died because of his sickness (Ph 2:27).
Christians are not immune to illnesses. We are not super humans. We can never know why God heals some and not others.
Just look at the two sons of Zebedee – James, the brother of John and one of three closest disciples of Jesus, was killed at the founding of the church (Acts 12:2) while John survived up to a ripe old age and died a natural death in Ephesus although he was exiled on the island of Patmos for a considerable amount of time.
‘The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord’ – Job 1:21.
Hence, do not despise believers (and non-believers) who are sick. We don’t know the end from the beginning.
B143 - Contribute to those who are in need (relationship with the poor)
The early church contributed to the poor who were in need.
Rom 15:26 says,
‘For Macedonia and Achaia have been pleased to make some contribution for the poor among the saints at Jerusalem.’
Notice that these were believers who were poor and the Apostle Paul never belittled them.
In Gal 2:10, the Apostle Paul testified how the pillars of the early church, Peter, John, and James (not the brother of John) saw the grace that was resting on him and sought him not to neglect the poor.
There is a role for the church to contribute to those who are poor, even within the church.
Contribute to the poor who are in church.
B144 - Help the sick/ those in prison/ the poor in a practical way (relationship with the poor)
In Matt 19:21, Jesus asked the young man who sought him regarding the issue of eternal life to
‘go, sell what you possess and give to the poor.’
And in Matt 25:37-40, Jesus commended the righteous who went ahead to clothe those who were naked, feed the hungry, and visit prisoners. Jesus said,
‘As you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’
Jesus expected believers to do good social work, and to assist those who for one reason or another, have fallen on hard times.
The Gospel of Jesus Christ must be practical – help those who are poor, whether they are inside or outside the church, in practical ways.
See B420, Evangelism – Befriend and love the outcasts.
B145 - Do not despise the poor (relationship with the poor)
In Matt 11:5, Jesus testified to John the Baptist that the
‘Good News is being preached to the poor.’
In the New Testament, the disciples talked about poverty as a matter of fact. But in the Old Testament, there is a clear message that poverty is a curse, the result of disobedience of a nation.
Deut 28:15-68 spells out these curses on the children of Israel, including sicknesses, diseases, and poverty, in a colorful language. The children of Israel were meant to be God’s shining light on earth (and we believe they still are, seeing how the 21st century Israel is being blessed in terms of talents, skills, as well her land).
‘If you are not careful to observe all the words of this law which are written in this book, that you may fear this glorious and awesome name—the LORD your God— He will bring upon you and your descendants extraordinary disasters, severe and lasting plagues, and terrible and chronic sicknesses. He will afflict you again with all the diseases you dreaded in Egypt, and they will cling to you. The LORD will also bring upon you every sickness and plague not recorded in this Book of the Law, until you are destroyed. You who were as numerous as the stars in the sky will be left few in number, because you would not obey the voice of the LORD your God. Just as it pleased the LORD to make you prosper and to multiply you, so also it will please Him to exterminate you and destroy you. And you will be uprooted from the land you are entering to possess.’ – Deut 28:58-63.
Nobody likes to be poor (or sick). Prov 10:15 says,
‘A rich man’s wealth is his strong city, the poverty of the poor is their ruin.’
There will always be poor Christians. Hence, the Apostles reminded Paul to always ‘remember the poor’ (Gal 2:10).
It was James, the brother of our Lord, who said in James 2:5,
‘Has not God CHOSEN those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith.’
James challenged the church not to be prejudicial and to neglect the poor while in church.
And it was Jesus who said,
‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven’ (Matt 5:3).
It takes someone who recognizes his own poverty (although s/he might be financially rich) to actually come and seek out the Lord.
In Matt 19:24, relating to the rich man who was asked by Jesus to give up his wealth and follow him, Jesus said, ‘Again, I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.’
Prov 17:5 says,
‘Whoever mocks the poor insults his Maker; he who is glad at calamity will not go unpunished.’
Poverty is, therefore, not a bad word although it is not a good thing either.
We do not consider financial poverty as a curse because it could result in believers adopting a demeaning and condescending attitude towards people who are not well off and we could end up despising their status. Moreover, the New Testament never pronounces it as a curse.
Again, we do not know the end from the beginning. Our role as believers is to serve the poor and contribute to those in need.
B146 - Love the Jews (relationship with Jews)
‘If some of the branches were broken off, and you, although a wild olive shoot, were grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing root of the olive tree, do not be arrogant toward the branches. If you, remember it is not you who support the root, but the root that supports you.’
Paul reminded Gentile believers that they should not be ‘arrogant toward the branches (Jews)’.
There is a partial hardening of the Jews at the moment but at the ‘fullness of the Gentiles’, ‘all Israel will be saved’ (Rom 11:25-26).
Our role as Gentile Christians is to love the Jews. They have been broken off so that we can be grafted into the tree. Gentile Christians should never be arrogant in regard to our status in the Lord.
B147 - Love our animals (relationship with animals)
When God created man, he observed that man needed a suitable helper (Gen 2:18). So, he created animals and birds to be his helpmate. Only that it was not sufficient because ‘for Adam, no suitable helper was found’ (Gen 2:20).
Animals were man’s first companions. As imperfect as they are, animals continue to be good companions to many of us.
When Jesus was confronted by the Pharisees because he healed on a Sabbath, Jesus asked,
‘Which of you, having a son or an ox that has fallen into a well on a Sabbath day, will not immediately pull him out?’ (Luke 14:5).
It is a natural thing to look after our children and animals.
In another verse, Jesus told us that God was even interested in ordinary sparrows (Matt 10:29).
Animals co-exist with us and were there at the very beginning. Hence, we have to look after our animals.
B148 - Do not invite false teachers into our house (relationship with cults/ false religions)
Paul said, ‘(whoever) preach a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed’ (Gal 1:8). And he repeated the same sentence in v 9 in order to emphasize his point.
There are many false teachers especially in our days.
2 John 10 helps us to respond to such a person at our door,
‘If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting.’
If a believer wants to discuss with this person, let the believer does it outside his home or at a neutral spot.
Do not invite them into your house.
B149 - Resist the devil (relationship with the devil)
1 Peter 5:8-9 says,
‘Be sober minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith.’
Believers have to beware of the devil’s intention, which is to devour the vulnerables. And the way to do that with us is to resist him.
Other versions used the word, ‘Stay strong’ (CEV), and ‘Withstand him’ (NHEB). The Greek word is anthistemi or oppose, resist, and withstand. It means ‘never to give up’ and ‘holding one’s ground’.
Heb 12:4 says, we have not yet resisted to the point of shedding (our) blood.
A believer has to be pro-active and disciplined in order to ‘resist’. It means intentionally avoiding places of one’s own weaknesses. It means not going alongside with friends that can cause one to sin. It means sometimes we have to learn how to say ‘no’.
Once we become passive, the devil will lay hold on us.
James 4:7 went further to ask Christians to submit ourselves to God and resist the devil so that he will flee from us.
In Ephesians, Paul asked Christians to put on the ‘whole armor of God that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil’ (Eph 6:11). In other words, put on the armor and resist. And the whole armor is found in Eph 6:14-18 as follows:
- Belt of truth,
- Breastplate of righteousness,
- Shoes for the feet to share the gospel of peace,
- Shield of faith,
- Helmet of salvation,
- Sword of the Spirit (Word of God), and
- Prayer at all times in the Spirit.
After that, stand against the devil.
B150 - Study and search the Scripture daily to confirm the truth (relationship with the Bible)
Study and search out the Scripture daily. Jesus encouraged his followers to search out the Scripture. He reprimanded the Pharisees for their lack of understanding on the resurrection in Mark 12:24; they read the Scripture but had no revelation of it.
Meanwhile, the Jews in Berea in the Book of Acts were switched on when Paul shared with them; they examined the Scriptures daily to confirm the word and as a result many believed. They were not people who had ‘a zeal for God but not according to knowledge’ (Rom 10:2).
As believers, we must ‘rightly handle the word of truth’ (2 Tim 2:15) because the Bible is the word of truth. It is that which guides us in our daily living. One of the reasons why we put this project together is to provide believers who are hungry for the word an easier and more systematic way to learn.
Someone once said, ‘If a believer has Spirit (with zeal) without the Word, s/he will blow up. If a believer has the Word without the Spirit (with zeal), s/he will dry up. But if a believer has both the Spirit (with zeal) and the Word, s/he will grow up.’
There is no excuse – We need to be strong in the Word because it is ‘a light to guide our feet and a light for our path’ (Psalm 119:105). Otherwise, we can be manipulated by false teachings. We will also flounder when we are questioned and challenged.
B151 - Do not add or remove any biblical verses (relationship with the Bible)
Rev 22:18-19 says,
‘If anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life.’
This verse, no doubt, refers more specifically to the Book of Revelation.
However, in Prov 20:6, it says,
‘Do not add to his words, lest he rebuke you and you be found a liar.’
We have chosen in the project to adhere to the Bible used by evangelical Christians. We believe the Bible to be the infallible Word of God, having been tested over time, more so when the revealed prophecies continue to show the accuracy of the Bible.
As a matter of established truths, believers do not add or remove any biblical verses for their conveniences.
B152 - Obey everything that is found in the Scripture (relationship with the Bible)
‘Teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.’
Matt 28 is the Great Commission and it instructs the apostles to go out into the word to make disciples of all nations. More than that, the apostles are to teach them to observe all the commandments.
The original Greek for ‘observe’ is tereo or keep guard/ watchover/ keep intact. Most other versions translate the word to be ‘obey’.
The Apostle Paul made it clear that for us to ‘resist the devil’, we need to have the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God (Eph 6:17). There is no shortcut.
Jesus put it succinctly when he said,
‘If you love me, you will keep (obey) my commandments’ (John 14:15).
And his commandments is in the Scripture or the Word. The Bible is meaningful to a Christian and it should be. It is our guide and companion. It is the GPS (Global Positioning System) of our lives. Without it, we would indeed be lost.
Obey everything that is found in the Scripture.